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How are pointe shoes made?

Pointe shoes. Perhaps this is the very first association when the word "ballet" or "ballet dancer" comes to mind. We, the audience, mistakenly consider pointe shoes a part of the traditional dancer costume. But shoes are the most important things that a ballet dancer puts on during rehearsals and on stage.

Manufacturers call pointe shoes as "hard ballet shoes." There are "soft" ones: they are ballet flats or slippers.

Olga Bubnova, a correspondent:

“Ballet dancers have been dancing in pointe shoes for over 150 years. Over the years, the requirements of the dancers themselves and the production technology have changed. For example, here are the pointe shoes in which Maya Plisetskaya danced. And here are pointe shoes of a modern ballet dancer. You see how they differ in shape and width."

Orthopedists say: over the past decades, people's feet have become wider and their muscles - softer. Therefore, the pointe shoes have changed. Today we learn the technology, according to which the main attribute of classical dance is made in the 21st century. The full cycle of creating pointe shoes takes about two weeks.

It all starts here: in this workshop, satin canvases are cut out for shoe details. By the way, the usual color of pointe shoes — it is called “ballet pink” in the professional language — it was developed and patented by the Russian company. Brilliance and a shade are ideally combined in this color. These pointe shoes do not flicker under the lights and visually lengthen the ballet dancer's leg.

Then the material goes to another workshop, where the masters - or rather, craftswomen - make the upper part of pointe shoes. Blanks are tried on special shoe-trees: according to them, the seamstress measures the openness of the future pointe shoes and their width. They are trimmed and edged according to the desired size. Before our eyes, this work is performed by Olga Viktorovna Monakhova. She is an experienced master: she is at the factory since 1992.

Olga Monakhova, a foreman of the sewing section:

“This is how the workpiece looks like. Here I have edged it, I put it on the shoe-tree. - And what shoe-tree is this? - Here we have the fourth width.

Irina Minchenko, a Head of Advertising and Marketing Department of the pointe shoes factory:

“There are five types of shoe-trees in our company - from the narrowest one to the widest one. They are further subdivided into market types: for example, Asian feet are wider. While European ones are narrower. China, Japan and Korea - they prefer smart point pointe shoes: these are our new pointe shoes, they are wider, they are adapted for wider feet with a low foot bridge. ”

The width of the future pointe shoes affects the size of the voluminous workpiece, which is formed in the next shop.

Dmitry Voronov, a Administrative Director of the pointe shoes factory:

“A master tightens the workpiece onto the shoe-tree, giving it a volumetric look. By the nature of the laid down folds, it is possible to determine who the master was.

Before the advent of the factories, the pointe shoes were made in workshops at theaters. At that time masters knew the individual requirements of each dancer. Today, there are two main ways of making pointe shoes: classic - when everything is done manually; and new - stitching - when the workpiece is collected by 40 percent with the help of mechanical equipment. But in any case, most of the work is manual labor.

With the stitching method, the already tightened workpiece with the sole previously attached returns to the seamstresses. They sew on the sole. But before our workpieces become complete pointe shoes, they lack insoles, special sound-absorbing parts and, most importantly, boxes. They are made by hand, smearing the sacking with special glue.

Olga Bubnova, a correspondent:

“Here the pointe shoes are produced “from start to finish”. They even bake the glue in the factory. This is flour dextrin glue. All the details for the manufacture of a rigid base (i.e. a "box") of the pointe shoe are smeared with it. A “glass”, in which the ballet dancer’s leg “stands”, keeps its shape thanks to this natural glue. It is made from starch and flour. They say at the factory: you can even eat such glue ... It's a little sweet ... Indeed edible. ”

The Production Director suggested the film crew to try the glue; not a single journalist was hurt after the “glue tasting”.

While satin is cut and the workpieces are made in one workshop; soles, insoles and boxes are made in the other.

Olga Bubnova, a correspondent:

“There are no schools that teach how to make pointe shoes correctly. Therefore, masters are taught right there. A trainee works for 3 months only “for the table”, then he begins to make ballet shoes for sale. The trainee reaches the speed of the professional master in about a year. Only 2 or 3 of the 10 trainees continue to work in the factory. ”

Sergey Murza has been working with ballet shoes for 18 years. He says that making a pointe box is a rather voluminous work. This is the technique of the 19th century, suplemented with modern technologies. The box should be elastic and match the foot of the ballet dancer. But at the same time - keep a tough shape.

Sergey Murza, a master and product assembler of ballet shoes:

“Here it can depend on the stiffness of the sacking, and how everything is laid: that is, if it moves a little, just a millimeter away, all this will be felt. The legs of ballet dancers are sensitive, millimeters make sense. ”

Another important detail is the insole. Insoles are divided not only according to their size but also according to the degree of hardness.

Dmitry Voronov, a Administrative Director of the pointe shoes factory:

“It means hard. This is for ballet dancers who have been professionally in ballet for many years. The box is the “heart” of the pointe shoes, and the insole is their “spine”.

Only the sole remains. It is made of genuine leather. Special hot stamping in the form of a lattice reduces the ballet dancer's sliding on the floor. Important information is also marked for the buyer on the sole: the size, width and hardness of shoes. For example, this sole is for a pointe shoe of medium hardness - M.

Dmitry Voronov, a Administrative Director of the pointe shoes factory:

“A qualified ballet dancer - I will explain why she can dance in M and H shoes, and even in home slippers! And the ballet dancer, who is not so long in the ballet - for her M - medium - will be very hard. We have ss - super soft, soft, medium. That is, three more hardnesses before this one. "

All elements are transferred for the final assembly. Aleksander Vasilievich Koshelev - a master of the classical method of assembling ballet shoes. This fully manual production method is called “altan”.

Aleksander Koshelev, a master of the classic shoe assembly method:

“I pin the soles to the shoe-trees, then I put the workpieces on the shoe-tree, I make folds, and then I sew it.”

It takes an experienced master about an hour to make one pointe shoe by hand. Everything is important here: even the force with which the stitches are tightened. The work is very time consuming. Therefore, there are no women at the final assembly stage. Only men have enough strength to tighten and turn out the shoes. The final stage is balancing. The master checks the pointe shoe for stability and sends it further.

And, at last, pointe shoes are "baked". Pairs of hard ballet shoes spend 12 hours in a drying cabinet. But before they get to the customer or buyer, pointe shoes are subject to a strict control.

Dmitry Voronov, a Administrative Director of the pointe shoes factory:

“The controller indicates under the edging tape the month of manufacture, year of manufacture, model, hardness, master, and his unique number, a kind of passport.

- That is, a ballet dancer can even recognize her master, who made this pointe shoe for her.

- That's right!"

Pointe shoes are ready! And some ballet dancers use special inserts to dance more convenient with them.

Irina Minchenko, a Head of Advertising and Marketing Department of the pointe shoes factory:

“There is a notion that a ballet dancer must feel pain when dancing. Both pain and disfigured legs are the norm. In fact, this is not so, the requirements have changed now, because the dancers have become more sensitive to their own health. Silicone liners can minimize the feeling of friction, or there are liners that are laid specifically between the sole and the pointe shoe so that there are no clavi. "

The Russian company supplies pointe shoes to 75 countries and is among the top three manufacturers. This means that they make decent shoes for the best ballet school in the world.

Olga Bubnova. Vladimir Bragin. TV BRICS.